Big and scary waves

Monday, January 28, 2008

We spent our last day in Kauai revisiting the North Shore of the island. We’re sitting in the airport now waiting for our redeye flight to board. It takes off a bit before midnight. Thanks to the late flight, we had a full day of activities, taking our time to ensure we weren’t at the airport four hours before our flight (as I’ve said before, I prefer to get to the airport early to avoid anxiety—just not that early). We traveled up highway 50 for most of the day, reaching its end.

Before we arrived at the North Shore, we stopped at the Pools of Malakae. You reach the pools by driving along yet another dirt road. The entrance to the road has signs warning that the road is closed and it might be a federal violation to trespass along the road. The blue book told us it was okay, and since it is a higher authority than the U.S. government, we trusted it and made our way along the rough road. Our not-so-fancy Jeep did quite well on what was the slipperiest path it has driven. Let me clarify: the Jeep was a wonderful choice. It allowed us to drive on roads that we would have been fearful with lesser vehicles. I call it the no-so-fancy Jeep because it’s a Jeep: it’s not supposed to be fancy. The windows roll up and down with a crank, and except for the A/C, it has base everything. Perfect for what we needed it for, namely driving through hugely potholed roads and over red slippery mud.

Once we arrived at the end of the path, we hiked along a fence separating the bird-protected (and therefore illegal to trespass) part from the rest of the beach. We walked down from the fence to the lava rocks that ran along the edge of the ocean. The blue book described pools and swimming holes, but there was to be none of that today. The ocean was angry throughout the day. There was a high wind and an even higher tide. We stood on the rocks next to where the ocean pounded, trying its best to get to us. It was a bit scary as we hiked as far as we could before trekking back. Besides a few locals sitting in trucks at the end of the road, the hike was deserted. We passed a few joggers as we drove back, but there wasn’t a person on the rocks with us.

We next stopped at the Secret Beach. We mentioned a few days ago that we were going to use the blue book to find a secret beach, which only we would know about. You get to the beach by hiking down a steep wooded trail. (The hike back up was much more difficult.) The beach was surrounded by beautiful houses overlooking the oceans around it. The beach was large and well worth the hike. It had the most sand per person we had seen since arriving in Hawaii. There were a couple of families on the beach, but even so, it was quite secret and mostly deserted.

From the Secret Beach we tried to find the Secret Lava Pools, but because of the high surf, we didn’t get very far. We snapped a few photographs and called it good, hiking back up the steep path that led to the Secret Beach.

We left the Secret Beach and headed west along Highway 50 to Hanalei, a picturesque town with many rice paddies and postcard views. We grabbed lunch at a cute seafood place called Dolphin something, with an outdoor seating area that overlooked the Hanalei River. As we left town, we saw a few cars pulled over and people snapping photographs. I joined them and Doolies caught this beautiful photograph.

They just announced that the plane is boarding, so I’ll speed this up a bit. After we left Hanalei, we continued the drive west to the end of highway. It ends at the beginning of the Na Pali coastline. There is an 11 mile hike at this point, but because of the time, and our lack of preparation, we decided to forego the hike, and instead stopped at some amazing beaches, where we watched (and even took video) of a few brave surfers on the waves.

The plane beckons us, and we plan to sleep a few hours before arriving at Seattle and rescuing Ziggy and Button (we have decided to call them the Biggies when referring to both dogs).